Israel Slams ‘Shameful, Farfetched’ UN Chief Comments on Jenin Counterterror Op

UN headquarters in New York. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

In Israel’s recent counterterrorism operation in Jenin, no civilians were killed. So Israel was more than just surprised when United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last Thursday accused Israel of using “excessive force” to combat a terror infrastructure that has killed Israeli civilians.

“The Secretary-General’s remarks against Israel were shameful, farfetched, and completely detached from reality,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan posted to Twitter on Thursday. “The recent Israeli counter-terror activity in Jenin focused solely on combating the murderous Palestinian terror targeting innocent Israeli civilians.

“Sadly, Palestinians had to leave their homes temporarily as Palestinian terrorists turned them, along with hospitals and schools, into arms caches and command centers for their terror activity. Blaming Israel for these ruthless Palestinian acts only incentivizes the terrorists to continue using populated areas for their arms and weapons!”

Erdan went on to call upon Guterres to retract his comments and “clearly condemn the Palestinian terror against civilians and for using other Palestinians as ‘human shields,’ rather than denouncing the democratic State of Israel for defending itself in the face of terror.”

In separate comments sent by Erdan in a letter to the UN and published by The Times of Israel, Erdan highlighted a 300-meter (984 foot) terror tunnel that ran under a mosque in Jenin and was used to store weapons. Such actions are not unusual or new for Palestinian terrorists, who have used civilian facilities for militaristic purposes for many years.

In his comments last week, Guterres made the common tact of equivocating Palestinian terrorism with IDF counterterror responses. When asked in a press briefing if his condemnation applied specifically to Israel, Guterres said in comments posted to the UN website, “It applies to all use of excessive force and obviously, in this situation, there was an excessive force used by Israeli forces.” Among other things, Guterres was bothered by the use of airstrikes by Israel as “inconsistent with the conduct of law enforcement operations.” It was unclear why the Secretary-General labelled Israel’s counterterrorism military raid merely a “law enforcement operation.”

In his Twitter post, Erdan railed against Guterres’ approach to Palestinian terrorism. “Time after time, the UN Secretary-General disregards brutal Palestinian terror and neglects to condemn the cold-blooded murder of innocent civilians. Yet when discussing defensive Israeli actions aimed at dismantling terror infrastructure, the SG is quick to issue extensive condemnations of Israel detached from the truth.”

Ironically, the dispute with the UN came just one day after the IDF highlighted the lack of civilian casualties in the Jenin operation. The IDF said in a Twitter post from their official account, “In a 48-hour, focused counterterrorism activity targeting heavily-armed terrorist groups in the densely-populated Jenin Camp (0.42 km²), no non-combatants were killed. Fact. When we say we make every effort to protect civilians & only target terrorists—we mean it.”

Israel wasn’t just taking to social media to make this point. In his comments with United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant discussed the Jenin operation. In a recap of the conversation published by Israel, the statement noted Gallant “emphasized the measures taken to prevent harm to uninvolved civilians, while enabling residents of Jenin in possession of work permits, to continue traveling to, and working in Israel during this period.”

In addition, Gallant noted the “importance of precision in the efforts to identify and engage terrorists and terror infrastructure, including the demolition of weapons warehouses and production sites, as well as terrorist hideouts… He added that Israel will continue to defend itself against any such threats, and will act decisively against terrorism.”

To that last point, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday emphasized again Israel’s approach to terrorists. It’s the exact opposite to their caution involving civilians.

“I reiterate our policy: Whoever murders Israelis, whoever perpetrates terrorism, will end up in one of two places: Prison or the grave,” said Netanyahu in comments published by Israel. The Israeli leader said this policy had three facets: Israel will “settle accounts” with the terrorists “without exception”; second, Israel is hitting at terror infrastructure and those who dispatch terrorists; and third, Israel is initiating it’s counterterrorism and using “the element of surprise”. The Jenin operation is an example of this approach.

Said Netanyahu, “We are changing the equation and so we will continue.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, July 9, 2023)

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